From its quiet perch on Franklin Street, Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop slings premium fair-trade ice cream right alongside warm hand-rolled soft-pretzels from Auntie Anne's Pretzel. Friendly staffers fill cups with famous flavors such as Cherry Garcia, a smooth blend of cherry ice cream speckled with cherries and flakes of chocolate fudge. Phish Food infuses chocolate ice cream with marshmallow and caramel swirls, paying homage to the mellow tunes of the jam band Phish with fish-shaped fudge pieces that play eight-minute guitar solos. The shop was recently renovated to include an Auntie Anne's, whose pretzel professionals prepare a wide array of sweet and salty snacks, spiraling them into ornate knots with the delicacy of a grandmotherly sailor, and baking them to golden brown in full view of customers.
Strafe Gaming Lounge cultivates a casual, family-friendly setting around a simple central concept: make gaming social. The facility achieves this goal, in part, with its semiprivate gaming stations outfitted with cushioned furnishings and 42-inch high-definition TVs?as well as a roster of systems that includes four Xbox Ones, three PlayStation 4s, two Wii Us, five Playstation 3s, Nintendo Wii, and classic Nintendo 64 and Atari consoles. Video games aren't the only attraction, though: a 100-inch HD projection screen hosts gaming tournaments and film screenings. Inventive programs such as technology camps for kids and all-night gaming lock-ins provide even more ways for guests to come together.
Aviator Brewing Company's dedicated brew architects collaborate with a premium selection of seasonal ingredients to craft 16 varieties of pint fillers. Since taking root in 2008 with two 300-gallon tanks in a decommissioned airplane hangar, the suds factory has grown to include four tanks, each of which contains 3,100 gallons of award-winning libations. Inside the tanks, frothy brews such as the Devils Tramping Ground Tripel—a golden Belgian ale with a fruity, spicy, sweet flavor—wait for year-round sampling. They also concoct seasonal brews for Oktoberfest, spring, and winter, as well as rotating beers such as McGritty's Scotch Ale, which they brew from Maris Otter barley malt and crisp malt imported from the United Kingdom in an oversize kilt.
Nearby, on Broad Street, Aviator also operates a tap house, which serves up their draft brews at a temperature of 47 degrees Fahrenheit thanks to a micromatic dispensing system with glycol cooling. Down the street, they also operate a smokehouse that serves up smokehouse ribs, North Carolina chopped-barbecue sandwiches, and pulled pork that has been featured on RaleighLifestyle.tv's Dining Destinations.
Inside the kitchen at Le Mussels, chefs combine Asian, American, and tropical influences, revering seafood above all and using it to unite disparate culinary styles. Pots of mussels can arrive in a traditional broth of white wine, garlic, and butter, or in an international m?lange with cilantro, Japanese sake, or spicy Italian sausage. During each mealtime rush, housemade mango salsa is poured generously over coconut-crusted tilapia while the kitchen?s grill tops teem with Angus-beef patties and tuna steaks.
Eleven flat-screen televisions surround the intimately lit dining room, which creates a modern, industrial ambiance with its high ceilings, exposed ductwork, and coal-powered napkin dispensers. As the sounds of sports broadcasts echo throughout the space, guests can visit the bar and snag a hand-shaken cocktail or a beer from the ever-changing selection of 18 domestic and imported drafts.
When Scotsman Archibald Leslie settled in Holly Springs, North Carolina, in the early 19th century, he built a 180-acre estate right by the town’s freshwater springs. These days, only the estate’s springs and main house—a nationally registered historic site known as the Leslie-Alford-Mims House—remain. But with their pub, the proprietor’s of Archibald’s Tavern make sure the settler’s name lives on as well.
The tavern’s cooks specialize in staples of American bar food, such as hot wings, wraps filled with philly cheesesteak fixings, and burgers crowned with pepper jack cheese and jalapeños. Selections from an ever-expanding beer list pair perfectly with feasts, which patrons can complement by taking in that day’s game on flat-screen TVs mounted around the bar.
The cooks at Rudy's Pub and Grill?are a little busier than those at your average sports bar. In between constructing burgers, they're mixing 14 different wing sauces (two so spicy they require a waiver), making corned beef from scratch, and hand-breading fillets of fish. The menu skews Southern, with options such as smoked-pork nachos, fried pickle chips, and hearty platters of rib eye and potatoes. On the weekends, brunch reigns all day with farm-style dishes like biscuits with sausage gravy.
In one respect, however, Rudy's?is the quintessential sports bar. A recent revamp hung the walls with sharp new speakers and LED TVs as large as 80 inches. Beyond the bigger-than-ever games, weekdays offer poker and weekends amp up the crowd with karaoke.